I was raised; partially at least, by a verbally abusive adult. This person whom identified as a Southern Baptist
had me read the bible frequently as a child, although she had zero credibility to me. For every wrong turn I made I was told I was “going to hell and burn eternally.” Another Christian fundamentalist, family member I overheard speak of “worrying about David and faggotry” when I was nine years old. This was hurtful and devastating to my young ears.
I prayed to “God and Jesus” on a nightly basis in tears for years to remove my being gay. This is how I know that I was born gay. If God really wanted me to not be gay it would of been removed from me. God knows I tried, well actually begged. Perhaps if you are LGBT there are chances you have also experienced similar language and threats from “loved ones” whom claim to know the mind of God?
However instead of drawing me, and perhaps you: into an all loving energy, as I grew older I rejected and even mocked all forms of religion as “foolish” and “imagination run wild”. The few times I as a child I went to church all I could ever notice was the out stretched hands of a preacher asking for money. The particular church I went to in the 80s gave children large candy bars on a silver platter upon exit from Sunday School. This was reason enough for me to go.
Up until very recently though, I had become such a hardline atheist that my basic belief was that human beings were nothing more thank a walking, talking, thinking pile of organized meat and bones. I, like some other LGBT atheists in recent years adopted in your face confrontation and shaming of all religions, especially Christianity; both in person and online.If all your life, all you ever hear from “Christians” is about “homosexuality” and how this “All Knowing,””All Loving,” “God” was going to punish me with eternal “hellfire” one might understand the repelling of religious mindsets and institutions.
But something serious lacks from any religious movement that exudes a message of love on Sunday and then uses fear, threats, hate, intolerance, exclusion and violence the rest of the week. On the flip side of that same token? Shaming and embarrassing Christians or any other person of religion will never sell nor inspire free thinkers to emerge. As Hillary Clinton so eloquently stated in her famous “Gay Rights Are Human Rights” Speech. “Nobody ever changed their mind as a result of force.”
By my nature I am an agitator and aggravator. And this past year has brought me some of the greatest stress of my adult life. Few people understand my particular type of radical activism and shocking words on my bullhorn to be street theater and I have paid some real costs that I am not at liberty to discuss at this time but I can tell you that on a couple occasions I have been forced to stare death in the face and have been shaken to my core. When people say they find God in times of great distress, for me that has been at least somewhat true. Being shaken so deeply one starts to think about God, spirits, afterlife, spirit guides and spirituality.
So this is where I am. I cannot accept at this point that one man sits on a cloud judging billions of people for which path they have chosen to their God. No jealous Gods interested in popularity contests burning those different from Him interest me. No God that judges people for natural things such as erections and sex. Being Gay is natural and sex is natural. LGBT people come from the natural world so that makes it natural. This is important to say because it is true.
For me, if God if real, is most likely a female energy and is our global collective conscious. God is love and light and total unconditional love, flaws and all. God is in you and is in me. Each time we chose to act out of love and service instead of ego and selfish needs, that is God. Each time we show grace where grace & forgiveness is not due, that is God. Each time we stand up for the little guy, the underdogs, the marginalized; that is God.
My spiritual awakening started recently and is more about spirits and spirit guides and protection. Opening myself just to the possibility of a loving God has set off some of the most vivid imagery. I imagine being struck by lightening, beautiful, blue, green and golden lights encircle me, protect me, and gives me strength. Some may call it hocus pocus and that is okay because this is my struggle and not theirs. My relationship with God is not out of self importance but out of the desire for God to be real and working for us – not against us. To put it simply I am evolving on spirituality.
There is nothing wrong with activists using agitation and aggravation but to dismiss “educate and advocate” is to dismiss the other half of the formula for successful and real change. LGBTQI, Atheists only partaking in angry activism that involves throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks might fail and miss their goal. Belittling people and shaming any person will always fail. Angry activism while maybe great street theater isn’t changing hearts and minds.
What opened the door for my spiritual awakening was not threats of violence and hellfire. What opened the door for my newly sprung spirituality has been the work of friends, fellow activists, and from believers of all faiths offering me the space to grow and to be who I am, without pressure, without damnation but with grace people still wanted to be my friend. I try to remain open to the message and not the messenger always and my life and mental health has only gotten better for it. No church is ever needed to reach the spiritual realm. Mother Earth, God, Nature, whatever you choose to call Her.
As LGBTQI Activists we’ve been fighting for Rights and tolerance for decades. We demand the space to be ourselves, unapologetically and for good reason. We have even gone so far as to “come out” and politicize our lives for our cause. However, there has to be room for everyone. How does it look for me to demand tolerance If I’m not willing to offer you that same respect?
If you must stick a label on me I am a spiritual agnostic. Agnostic means I do not know if there are Gods and spirits or not. I just feel better when I choose to believe there is something bigger than me. I can choose to be the bigger man. I can choose to respect you and any non-violent religion that people find central to their lives. I can choose to not berate and shame people looking for something more out there.
It was intolerance and hate of gay people introduced to me as a young kid that propelled me away from all forms of God and it was intolerance, hate, and exclusion that allowed me to shame those that seek outside spiritual interventions. In such a painful world filled with violence, especially towards LGBT people, don’t make the same mistakes I have. As activists whether we like it or not, people are looking to you, looking for you to lead and possibly to even inspire them. It’s kind of difficult to inspire when we leave people out. When we create the space that allows for others to be more human; we are in-turn creating the space for ourselves to be more human.
When we allow all a seat at the table, unconditionally it is only then that we are walking the talk and getting down to the real hardcore business of changing hearts and minds, One person at a time.